This week, the Rajasthan Assembly passed The Rajasthan Honour of Dead Body Bill, 2023, with the primary objective of preventing protests with a dead body. The bill aims to penalize such acts, with potential imprisonment for up to five years. Its purpose is to uphold the dignity of the deceased’s body and deter anyone from staging protests with dead bodies in public places, including roads and police stations. Offenders may face jail time ranging from six months to five years, accompanied by fines.
Furthermore, the bill emphasizes that every dead person has the right to proper last rites. It holds the family responsible for performing the last rites promptly and obliges them to do so under orders from the Executive Magistrate or local police officer. In cases where the family refuses to fulfill this responsibility, the public authority will perform the last rites.
Additionally, The Rajasthan Honour of Dead Body Bill, 2023, addresses the maintenance and protection of data related to unclaimed dead bodies. If family members decline to claim the dead body, they can be subject to imprisonment for up to one year or a fine, or both. The bill imposes penalties of up to two years of imprisonment and a fine for those using a dead body for protests or demonstrations, or giving consent for such actions. For individuals other than the deceased’s family who protest with a dead body, the bill prescribes imprisonment of up to five years along with a fine.
The need for this bill arose due to a rise in incidents where families protested with the body of the deceased, seeking unjustified demands, according to Rajasthan Parliament Affairs Minister Shanti Dhariwal. The minister highlighted that between 2014 and 2018, there were 82 such incidents leading to 30 police cases, and from 2019 to 2023, the number increased to 306 incidents with 91 police cases filed. The bill is a necessary step to address this issue, as previously, there were no specific provisions or acts governing such actions.